Dulce de Leche is sweetened condensed milk which has been caramelized in its own can. Usually simmered for up to three hours, the pressure cooker can do it in just 15 minutes- plus a wholly unsupervised overnight natural release.
Although we usually stay away from cans and packets on this website dulce de leche is the exception to every rule! I had already detailed my procedure for pressure cooking condensed milk in a foodie forum, about a year ago but figured it was time to share the mysteries and caveats of pressure cooking a can to all.
Now that dulce de leche is so easy to make, you’ll be looking for lots of ways to use it. It can be…
- Spread it on toast, bread or crackers as you would a fruit jam
- Mix it into your coffee or tea
- Drizzle it on ice-cream
- Spread it on top of a Cheese Cake
- Dribble it on Muffins
- Dip Banana Slices into it
- Make a Banoffie Pie
- Fill pastries or tarts
- Flavor flans, carmels and Brulee’s -any custard
- Coat the pan for making chocoflan
- Make Ice Cream
- Substitute caramelized sugar in a flan
How will you use it? Leave your answer at the bottom of the post!
A few safety considerations when pressure cooking a can or other sealed container:
|Pressure Cooker||Accessories||Pr. Cook Time||Pr. Level||Open|
|5 L or larger||steamer basket||15-20 min.||High(2)|| Natural
- one 8-10oz (300-400ml) can Sweetened Condensed Milk
- water to cover
- Prepare the pressure cooker by adding the trivet and steamer basket. Place the can on the steamer basket, being careful that it does not touch the sides or base of the pressure cooker. Do not skip this step. The can not
- be in direct contact with the super-heated base or sides of the pressure cooker.
- Fill the pressure cooker with enough water to cover the can. Put the can on its side to make sure it is fully submerged while not exceeding the "maximum capacity" of the pressure cooker
- Close the lid and set the valve to pressure cooking position.
- Electric pressure cookers: Cook for 15 minutes at high pressure.
Stovetop pressure cookers: Lock the lid and cook for 20 minutes at high pressure.When time is up, open the pressure cooker with the Natural release method - move the cooker off the burner and wait for the pressure to come down on its own. For electric pressure cookers, disengage the “keep warm” mode or unplug the cooker to initiate the natural release.
- When the pressure cooker unlocks, do not remove the lid. Delicately set the pressure cooker aside and let it cool overnight - do not remove the can from the cooker or attempt to open it while it is warm.
- The next day, when completely cool, the can can be stored as-is or opened to used in your favorite recipe. Transfer to a plastic container and freeze any un-used portion for up to three months.
- If the dulce de leche is too stiff, simply warm the desired amount in a small pan with a spoon or two of milk to soften it to the desired consistency.
Yeilds 1 can
Note: Should the can of condensed milk be larger than the pressure cooker, come in a tube, or be home-made, the contents can be poured into a glass jar suitable for pressure canning. The procedure is almost the same except that the water in the cooker should reach the level of the contents of the jar (you will not be able to submerge it because of the air in the jar). Do not store as-is. Refrigerate or transfer to a plastic container to freeze until ready to use.
Follow the rest of the procedure and precautions as written.
How did you do that (extremely helpful) graphic? Is it a Photoshop, or does a transparent pressure cooker pot actually exist? (And if the latter — is it something you built as a demonstrative, or can it actually hold pressure?)
Unfortunately, there are no transparent pressure cookers, yet.
Let’s call the photo a photographer’s secret!! ; ) I’m glad to read that you found it helpful.
Yes it is photoshop elements using layers.
The graphics are really helpful. Even I am curious to know how you did that. :)
O.M.G. Why did I ever spend the whole day boiling a can hoping that the inside would caramelized and worrying that the water might run out. Are you serious, 15 minutes?!?
Love this recipe. I’d heard about this being done, but never had complete instructions. Thank you! Question: after processing, should the can be refrigerated, or is it okay on the shelf as long as it remains unopened?
Yes, 15 minutes at pressure -it takes a while to get there due to all the water and the pressure cooker being almost full- and then a very, very long natural release.
You can store the un-opened can without refrigeration. You may want to write on it with a sharpie to remind you that it now contains dulce de leche!
You can see the pressure cooker behind the glass. I suspect Laura used an appropriate-sized glass container and then positioned the cooker behind it at the right distance so that all you can see is the handles. Use a telephoto lens and a small aperture on your camera and you get a lot of depth of field and the flattening effect that makes it possible.
Hi! question on the electric pressure cooker intructions:
It says to cook, blah blah blah… disengage the “keep warm” or unplug, and open when the pressure indicator drops.
Q: Are you sure I shouldn’t keep my EPC closed all night, like the stove-top PC?
Yes, you are right. Also electric pressure cookers should do an overnight natural release!
We used to do that a lot growing up in Cuba, dulce de leche was a staple for students, specially when we had to go to work on the fields helping farmers (1 month out of the school year). Our parents stocked our suitcases with dulce de leche :)
Beautiful memory, thanks for sharing! It’s a great reminder to how different childhood can be in different countries!!!
How did you use your ducle?
Straight out of the can, on toast, on white bread, on saltine crackers…
May I do more than one can at a time as long as they are not touching the sides or base of the cooker or one another? Do the cans have to lay down as shown, or can they stand upright? Thanks in advance for your reply.
Yes, you can do more than one can at a time. They can touch each other but not the sides or base of the pressure cooker – those parts are hotter and may scorch the milk in the can where it is in contact with them.
You can absolutely keep them upright. Since I used a 6L pressure cooker there was no way to keep the can upright AND stay below the max line. Added bonus: less water means a shorter time to pressure.
Works beautifully as advertised. Ive made one batch for DDL ice cream and the second can is cooling now. Just like PCing chicken stock, the pressure cooker makes a tremendous difference and actually allows someone who wont spend hours sweating over a hot stove make some essential recipes with ease.
Thanks for coming back to let us know!!
Just got a pressure cooker this week, and this was one of the first things I tried. So good, and so easy! I forgot to take the can out this morning (after cooking last night), and when I took it out after work today it was a little rusty. A quick rinse got rid of the rust though, and the dulce de leche inside was unharmed.
Congratulation on your new pressure cooker! So glad it worked out for you.
Ah.. that reminds me to mention thar I have hard water, so my cans come out feeling a little “fuzzy”. If you have hard water, you can add a dash of vinegar in the water before pressure cooking and you won’t have a calcified can coming out of the cooker!!
Here in Brasil we are not familiar with this “steamer basket” (that’s why, unfortunately, I can’t make most of your recipes) and, for Doce de Leite (or Leite Condensado Cozido, to be precise) it’s absolutely unnecessary. You just need to put the can into the pressure cooker, cover with water and let it cook under pressure for 20-45 minutes (depends on the desired consistency). Nothing bad will happen if the can touches the cooker. :P
And you don’t need to wait until the next day… a few hours will be enough. When the can is completely cool, you’re safe.
Lou, there are many options and ways to make your own steamer basket. A small stainless steel colander, a foldable stainless steel basket as pictured in the recipe. I’ve seen these both in US and Europe – for sure they’ve made their way down to Brasil! Even makeshift baskets can be made with tin-foil origami.
Don’t let lack of a “proper” pressure cooker steamer basket stop you from trying the recipes here!
As far as the can being OK touching the base or opening it whenever you think the contents are cooled – we’ll have to disagree.
Putting the can in direct contact with the base of the cooker is not only dangerous but could scorch the contents in the area of the can that is in contact with the base. Boiling it in a steamer basket ensures that the whole can heats, caramelizes and cools slowly and evenly.
Would a bamboo steamer be okay to use if metal one is not available? Are silicone steamers and/or colanders okay to use in pressure cooker? Thanks
I don’t know about using a bamboo steamer. I would be concerned about the bamboo warping in super-heated boiling water.
Silicone steamers are absolutely OK to use in the pressure cooker.
Don’t use plastic colanders. Melamine and Polypropylene ARE heat-proof, but not heat proof to the temperatures that can be achieved in the pressure cooker. Both Melamine and Polypropylene have a hard “plasticky” feel to them.
I made the above and it came out exactly as pictured and imagined. Years ago I remember seeing something like the condensed milk thing but instead it was a can of Herseys Syrup
in a can pressured cooked. It supposedly came ot like a fudge sauce. I am willing to try it but I don’t think Hersey’s comes in a can today. Do you think a canning jar would work as well? When I made the above I did it on the back burner and when the time was up I just turned off the fire and let it sit
there quietly for a day. Perfect! Mary in New Hampshire
What a great idea. Also, I think it would be nice to try with sweetened coconut milk.
This was really awesome. I got a little impatient and took the can out after an hour or two of cooling, and cooled it down further in another pot full of ice water. It worked fine, actually, though I guess it isn’t recommended. Delicious, though. Thanks for the recipe and for the site.
I’m glad it worked out for you.
I just purchased the 5 Qt. Brasier. Is it too short to do this receipe?
Ed in Fresno CA
It might be. The can needs to be fully submerged and I don’t think you’ll have the depth for that. The best way to test, is to try it.
If it doesn’t fit. Use the condensed milk in a flan recipe!!
Raise the flag! After much searching for Hersey’s Syrup in the can I found it at Wal Mart today. I am going to do the same method as the condensed milk thing and hopefully get fudge sauce. I will report back! That dulce thing is amazing and addictive!
Oh, Mary how exciting!! I can’t wait to hear about it. Snap a pic post it on the hip facebook page, so we can share your results!
Well it didn’t work at 15 minutes. No change. I will try it for a longer period of time. Too bad I don’t have the cook book anymore where I originally saw it………….to many years ago never thinking I would ever have a pressure cooker. Careful what you wish for! hehe
Again Stay tuned.
I’m not in the US so not familiar with Hershey’s syrup in a can, but I’m from Argentina and dulce de leche runs in my veins! Check the ingredients on the syrup can: it MUST have milk and sugar, otherwise it won’t work. But I see what you’re trying to do, and there is hope! Look out for CHOCOLATE CONDENSED MILK. It’s not common – I got mine from Aldi – but it is out there. It cooks up to the most amazing fudgy stuff! Good luck.
What are the ingredients of the Hershey’s Syrup? I wonder if it used to be made with sugar (which caramelizes and solidifies) but is now made with high-frutcose corn syrup (which does not)?
That might explain why you haven’t seen this recipe anywhere recently and why it didn’t work out.
Just when I thought condensed milk couldn’t get any nicer, you hit us all with this. Goodness, gracious, me.
I tried this recipe last night and we had a great breakfast this morning. Who knew dulce de leche would go so well with hot pepper jam?
I cooked under pressure for 20 minutes and I found the edges of that can were a bit burnt tasting to my palate so I will try 15 minutes next time. I’m sure some people would enjoy the “smokey” flavor, though.
Thanks for the recipe!
Delicious! I cooked the closed can covered in water in a 6Qt. Fagor Duo on a portable induction cooker. Once it came to full pressure, I used 800 watt setting for 15 min and 500 watt setting for 20 min. Left it for 4 hours to cool. It cooked evenly to a dark caramel with no burned taste.
Question because as usual anything my husband buys is industrial/cafeteria size: (actually 3 part question)
a. If the can is too large, then this can be made using a canning jar?
b. Secure/tighten the lid and band exactly as if canning something?
c. Other than that follow all your instructions as written?
a. Yes, you can use a canning jar.
b. Yes, tighten lid very lightly just as with canning.
c. I wrote instructions on using a jar at the bottom of the recipe, under the “Note” section. ; ) Fill with enough water only to the level of the condensed milk – otherwise the jar will float!
Ciao and have fun!!
Stirred into a few shots of espresso. My version of crack.
Love it, Jen!
Jen’s comment is hilarious! :) I always stayed away from this because of the 3 hours cook time and because I knew that I would eat the hole can in one sitting. And now YOU go and make it possible in less than 30 minutes! Thank you? :)
I’ll wait for you to try it to earn the exclamation mark!
L ; )
This has nothing to do with your post but I don’t know where else to ask this question. I have a chef design pressure cooker that is 13lb pressure instead of 15. I never use it because I’m not sure how to convert recipes well enough to have them done when I open the lid. Can you give me some tips?
All of the recipes and timing charts on this website state pressure cooking time in ranges to accommodate both standard and non-standard pressure cookers. Just choose the cooking time right in the middle of the range for your 13psi pressure cooker.
Your pressure cooker instruction manual includes the cooking times of most ingredients. You may want to refer to that chart and look-up the main ingredient of the recipe in the chart to double-check the pressure cooking time to ensure success.
Jules, I usually use the 20% rule when using my EPC. Most pressure cooker recipes are written for 15 psi, so I add 1 minute for every 5 that the recipe calls for. Keep in mind that the EPC takes longer for pressure release than a stove top cooker does under the cold water stream in the sink, so sometimes I don’t add quite the full 20% of time.
This…is…amazing! I cannot wait to try this!
Sounds great – although I’m concerned about the BPA’s from the plastic liner in the can and how heating may intensify the amounts ending up in the cooked result. It’s a know estrogen mimicker.
maybe we need a recipe for pressure cooker condensed milk! just a suggestion…
Great idea, but condensed milk needs to be slowly evaporated so a pressure cooker is definitely the wrong tool to use for MAKING condensed milk.
However, you don’t need to pressure cook the condensed milk in its can. You can pour the contents into a glass jar – instructions at the bottom of the recipe.
You can make your own sweetened condensed milk, but I’m not sure that it will work to make dulce de leche. Blend together 1 cup powdered milk, 2/3 cup sugar, 1/4 cup butter and 1/3 cup water. If you put it in a glass canning jar, you can try it out in the pressure cooker. I might even give it a go, as I usually make my own for other recipes. I’ve been avoiding canned goods because of the BPA as well, so it’s a good motivation.
Thanks for sharing your recipe. I also read that a “cheat” to make your own condensed milk is to add powdered milk to milk, instead of evaporating it. Definitely come back to let us know what happened (and post a pic) if you try it!
I read this post and, as a vegan, my mind immediately went to coconut milk. There is a common vegan recipe for “sweetened condensed milk” which is basically sweetened, reduced coconut milk. I really want to try this with a canning jar of that stuff, and I see in the comments that you’ve had similar thoughts…I just wondered whether you had tried this. I’m a little scared of the possibility because I wouldn’t be able to stop eating it if it’s as good as I expect! :)
Krista, I haven’t tried it yet, but let me give you a little more information if you want to try it.
Sweetened condensed milk is about 50% sugar – so there is alot of it to caramelize. Coconut milk is only 3% sugar. So you will need to add sugar to get it to caramelize.
You may want to heat a can of coconut milk and add almost the same weight of sugar and stir until the sugar is completely melted. Then, pour into canning jar and follow the procedure noted at the bottom of the dulce de leche recipe.
Come back to let us know how it turns out!
In the US you can find a product called Cream of Coconut, usually in the baking aisle, which is a sweetened coconut milk used for pina coladas and desserts. I picked up a can today, right next to the sweetened condensed milk as it were, and I can confirm that this technique works just the same!
Thanks Hugh- the extra sugar in the sweetened coconut milk did it! Great job. Share a pic on the facebook page, if you have one.
I think it would be a much better idea to pour the condensed milk into canning jars before pressure cooking it. That way you don’t have to worry about a can in a pressure cooker and you can also see how dark the Dulce de Leche is which you can’t see in an unopened jar. I usually make this in my slow cooker (7 hours in my old cooker on low) but I’m going to try this method next. I love Dulce de Leche.
Anonymous, we have instructions for using a canning jar at the bottom of the recipe.